Friday, 18 April 2014

Eastertime Special: Village Diary by Miss Read

published 1957








The vicar called in to give his weekly talk. This time, as well as a little discourse on everyday Christianity, he told the children about Palm Sunday and the Easter festival, as is his wont before the school breaks up for the Easter holiday.

When he asked for pussy-willow to decorate the church, Joseph Coggs raised an eager, if grimy, paw.

‘I can get a whole lot,’ he said, eyes agleam. ‘If I wriggles through the hedge down the bottom of Miss Parr’s place, there’s a pond and a pussy-willow tree.’

The vicar looked slightly taken aback.

‘But I’m afraid that’s a private tree, Joseph,’ answered the vicar. ‘It belongs to the people who live in the flats there.'

Joseph looked bewildered…

The vicar drew in a sad breath, and very kindly and patiently gave an extra little homily about the sanctity of other people’s property, and the promptings of one’s own conscience, and the eye of the Almighty which is upon us all, even those who are but six years old and are wriggling on their stomachs through the long Fairacre grass.




observations: Today is Good Friday: Easter Sunday will follow.


The village of Fairacre doesn’t change and neither does the schoolteacher, or the vicar, or little Joseph Coggs. CiB explained more about this in an ancient (2 years ago) entry on sewing class at the school – see here. It is easy to mock these gentle stories of village life – I loved them as a teenager, saw later how wrong I was to like them, and now have come to realize their true worth: a look at life in an Oxfordshire village during the second half of the 20th century, and a museum of the values and thoughts and issues that were important to those people at that time. Plus, endless entertainment from the very real stories of the schoolchildren.

For Easter Miss Read will set the children to making Easter cards, expecting:

Easter eggs, chicks and the like… but the most striking use of paper and pencil came from Patrick, who had carefully folded his paper in half to form an Easter card, which he finally presented to me. It showed three large tombstones with crosses, and the letters RIP printed crookedly across them, and inside was neatly printed 
‘HAPPY EASTER’ 

The picture is an Easter Sunday School class from Canada in the 1920s, from the Deseronto archives. You can just see the words Christ is Risen on a banner across the top.


8 comments:

  1. Moira - What a lovely post to begin the holiday. And you're so right that a book's value really can lie in what it shows us about life at a certain time in a certain place. I think that there are films and television series that do the same thing. They may not have the most gripping plots or memorable characters, but they show is life. And that's worth something.

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    1. Thanks Margot. I do like a book that gives you contemporary detail, perhaps of a kind that might be forgotten otherwise.

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  2. Moira: You have reminded me that the pussy willows budding out was a welcome sign of spring. In rural Saskatchewan they are everywhere and a child looking for some would never have to worry about trespassing to get some pussy willows.

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    1. Thanks Bill, that's delightful. I'm glad the children aren't being led into temptation....

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  3. I probably won't try this, but its interesting how things go full circle on us...you initially embrace something, then push it away, then come back to appreciate its value. Have a good Easter!

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    1. Thanks Col, yes indeed, and a Happy Easter to you too.

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  4. Nice photo, takes me back to my childhood. Not that it was that long ago, but I did go to Sunday School and church, and a youth fellowship group in the evening and the evening service. Every Sunday.

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    1. My great theory is that children years ago had the chance to get bored by going to church a lot, and that was good for them - children nowadays don't normally have to do it, or else church is made more entertaining. Coping with boredom is something they don't learn...

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